My Appearance On KING5 New Day Northwest

I was a guest on the KING5 New Day Northwest program on the topic of how to deal with difficult co-workers.

My 5 tips:

1) Consider first that you also might be perceived as “difficult”.

2) Don’t avoid the problem, deal with it (before running to the boss or HR to “solve the problem”).  Avoiding it leads to mounting frustration and resentment.  And going to the boss before trying to resolve it yourself makes you look bad.  Take the initiative to address the issue with your co-worker.

3) Identify what kind of relationship you want with your co-worker.  Identify your intention for the relationship and communicate this to the co-worker.

4) Identify and relay what your part is in the conflict.  “This is how I see I have contributed to our challenge…”

5) Identify and offer feedback to the co-worker about what behavior you have been experiencing from them that you deem is problematic.  De personalize it by describing their “behavior” not just saying they are “being rude” or “aren’t being a team player”.  Ask for what you want/need to make work life better.

 

Your EQ is Key to Career Success!

Research has powerfully proven that if you are a professional, particularly one in a leadership role (or want to be promoted into one), your emotional intelligence (EQ) capacities can make or break you. What matters is how others (staff, colleagues, key stakeholders/clients and other senior leaders) perceive your EQ abilities like self-awareness, emotional reactivity, adaptability and interpersonal communication in difficult or stressful situations.

In my many years of executive coaching experience I have met few leaders who really know how others truly perceive them. Staff is often reluctant to give leaders with hire/fire authority tough feedback. Additionally, few leaders have been given a confidential 360-feedback review. Sadly, leaders with the greatest EQ challenges are frequently those who have the greatest blind spots. Some find out after it’s too late.

Your EQ is essentially hard wired into the brain in early childhood. Its what helps or hinders you in being interpersonally effective in challenging, stressful or conflict workplace scenarios. If you are a leader you simply can’t afford not to pay attention to growing your skills in this arena. If others don’t trust you or you fail to persuade with your communication style you won’t last long in a leadership role.

EQ Career tip #1. Take my EQ assessment and find out your EQ strengths and challenges. I thoroughly researched the most popular EQ tools/tests available and have great faith in the profile that I have used successfully with hundreds of clients. I am offering 10% off through Feb 29th on this popular, practical and reliable tool.

EQ Career tip #2. Ask those around you to share impact/feedback with you. Don’t make assumptions about how others perceive you.

The good news is that EQ can be improved!! EQ is my coaching sweet spot. I know the formula to help you improve what matters most to your career success. It starts with a phone call—invest in yourself and call or email me today!

Call me to discuss: 425 736 5691(cell) or 360 682 5807 (office)
or email: pinelakemo@comcast.net

Referrals are greatly appreciated!! Please pass my practical tips on to any others you think would benefit.

Boundary Setting at Work

Workplace BoundariesBoundaries are the focus of many of my client coaching conversations. For many individuals, establishing and maintaining appropriate workplace boundaries are a big challenge. Some lack confidence or assertiveness skills to successfully negotiate boundaries while others take on too much responsibility (enabling others to under function) resulting in overwhelm, resentment and stress. Others lack the appropriate interpersonal understanding of courteous and professional standards.

I think of boundaries as limits (or fences)—being able to know where I end (or where my work ends) and the other begins. Being able to set limits, having autonomy, decision making control and determining acceptable and non-acceptable behavior from others involves setting boundaries.

There are two categories of boundaries that matter in the workplace, personal (tied to interpersonal appropriateness) and professional. Professional boundaries determine the limits and responsibilities of those that you interact with in the workplace.

Workplace and team success are intricately tied to boundaries. Team members feel safe and operate more efficiently with each other when roles, tasks, standards of behavior and responsibilities are clearly defined, understood and agreed to by all. I find as an organizational consultant that the fairer and clearer the boundaries are—the better interpersonal relationships and teams operate. There are boundaries to consider whenever you are interacting with someone else or another department. When there is confusion about who has responsibility for what—finger pointing, conflict, accountability and performance issues arise.

When professional boundaries are well established and maintained—tasks and responsibilities are clear and understood thus alleviating redundancy and/or confusion about “whose on first and whose on second?” or “not my job”.

Job descriptions are one form of professional boundary setting but the problem is most are far too general. Few job descriptions clearly define specific tasks, duties and responsibilities (particularly with work being handed off and passed back and forth between departments). Most bosses and team leaders need to spend more time and attention on clarifying acceptable performance standards and task responsibilities.

Here are my coach’s tips around boundary setting:

  • First you need to know your own limits. What can you do well given the amount of time and resources you have been given?
  • Work through your fear of addressing the issue. Being able to work through tough issues successfully generally fosters improved trust in teams and relationships. Don’t be afraid to negotiate boundaries with the boss or coworkers. Start by communicating your intention/desire to produce quality work while identifying what constraints you face given available resources and/or available time. Identify and communicate what you need to be successful. What do you need from others? You likely have information and/or insight they lack. Clue them in on what reality looks like from your vantage. Boundary negotiations often revolve around establishing priorities, “reasonable” expectations and agreed to definition of performance standards.
  • Communicate your abilities respectfully and honestly. Don’t try to pretend you can do something you cannot nor try to be superman/ superwoman! You burning out or feeling resentful isn’t healthy for you or the business. Speak up if you know you have been given an impossible or improbable task with limited odds of success. On the flip side, in this tough economic environment if you are just trying to protect your Internet surfing or slack off time—beware because these days dead wood is being cut!
  • Listen and verify your understanding of the others needs, interests, concerns and feelings. Emotions are often “up” when negotiating boundaries—people often react with fear or anger when they believe their interests are threatened. If you dismiss the other’s emotions you will be fueling them. Instead, try to convey that you “get” them (by the way this doesn’t mean agreeing with them).
  • If you are the boss—it’s your responsibility to define acceptable and non-acceptable behavior for the good of the business and the people in it. There is middle ground in the continuum between having no boundaries (a bad thing) or having boundaries that are so rigid they stifle creativity, morale or a worker’s ability to do their best. There are of course some that should be rigid—stealing, verbal/physical abuse etc.
  • Who else needs to know? Much of workplace confusion and conflict is a result of someone failing to clue others in the organization in on changes in roles, task handoffs or performance criteria/expectations.

Employee Stress

Have you noticed Seattle workers seem more highly stressed than ever? It seems to me there is a perceptible increase in grouchiness, negative emotional reactivity and stress levels. This spring’s lousy weather coupled with the ongoing recession reality, global distress with the nightly barrage of horrific oil spill pictures seems to have combined for a perfect storm leaving everyone on edge.

Job stress specifically is on the rise. Recent surveys (Northwestern National Life) indicate that 25% of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. 75% of employees surveyed believe workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago (according to Princeton Survey Research Associates).

Workers are being asked to do more with less and cover task responsibilities for laid off co-workers and diminishing resources. Technically is advancing at warp speed, keeping most of us on a vertical learning curve just trying to keep up. 5 generations in the workplace keep us all challenged trying to communicate effectively with each other. Many workplaces operate at an unending fast pace where urgency has become the norm vs. the exception. The constant urgency keeps many in “fight or flight” mode day after day. Migraines and tension headaches are on the rise along with fatigue and illness. All this constant stress takes a tremendous toil on our physical and mental well-being. It’s no wonder many Americans dread going to work.

These are tough times for workers and leaders. No one is immune. So how can leaders keep up morale in these high stress times? I don’t have a magic bullet but I can offer some suggestions for leaders:

  • Manage by walking around. Don’t hide away in your office. Keep a pulse on what’s happening with your people. If you disappear or go silent, rumors will take over adding to the stress levels. When you do communicate, do so authentically and candidly. Treat your people like the adults they are and don’t withhold information.
  • Model work life balance. If you never leave the office, likely your staff will feel pressured to do the same. Avoid sending out emails to staff late at night! This is an unconscious message that they too should be tethered to their Blackberries and PDAs 24/7 which is unhealthy. Leaders and staff working at a rapid fire pace need to take time to rejuvenate. Taking care of the foundation is important. Exercise (it releases endorphins and burns off excess adrenaline and cortisol) and find ways to truly disconnect from the workplace.
  • Be careful about the emotional wake you leave with staff—your emotions are contagious. Your staff looks to you to see how you are reacting/responding to stress—if you get wigged out, expect them to follow you. Be conscious about how you show up emotionally to your people. As best you can, try to demonstrate a calm confident demeanor. If you find yourself highly anxious, develop methods to self soothe (I like belly breathing because your breath is always with you as a highly reliable strategy, besides it is proven to lower heart and respiratory rates).
  • Find a coach or trusted outside partner that you can let it all hang out with—someone you can safely vent to and be a sounding board. An objective perspective can often be invaluable during tough times. It’s lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Isolating yourself isn’t healthy.
  • Notice the emotional field of your team and workplace. Give people time to talk about their stress and emotions during team meetings. People find comfort in hearing from other team members. Your job during these venting times is to listen well and offer them sincere appreciation and understanding for what they are going through.
  • Engage hearts and minds. Involve and consult with your team before making decisions. Ask them their opinions. Allow them opportunities to get involved with creative problem solving.
  • During highly stressful times its more important than ever to reward and recognize. From verbal thank you’s to special public recognition, make a concentrated effort to demonstrate true appreciation. Bring in special treats for the team (consider a massage therapist or yoga instructor) to reward a job well done.

Reduce Your Job Stress

WHILE JOB STRESS isn’t new, there is no doubt it’s on the rise. This workplace coach sees an alarming trend in frazzled, burned out and exhausted workers. The constant theme I hear: Everyone is increasingly challenged to do more with less.

According to a Northwestern National Life survey, one out of four workers view their jobs as the No. 1 stress in their lives (40 percent of workers surveyed said their job was “very or extremely stressful”). I help my clients find ways to decrease work stress factors that contribute to a long list of health concerns (migraines, anxiety attacks, sleep deprivation, etc.). Many report working 80-hour weeks and routinely facing morning inboxes with more than 200 new messages — with no end in sight.

The price is high: skyrocketing illness, friction between co-workers (“desk rage”) and lower productivity. Workers return home to their families short-tempered and depleted, often anxious about unfinished work, resulting in an inability to recharge.

There are many contributors to workplace stress: unrealistic deadlines, lack of supervisor support or understanding, feuding co-workers, misallocated or simply too few resources … the list goes on. Another big contributor is supervisors who fail to involve workers in decision-making that affects their daily work.

What causes workplaces to be in this state of constant overdrive? Increasing global competition, a tightening economy and excessive performance expectations all drive the ever-spinning hamster wheel. The information age is our blessing and our curse. Technology has made it easy to communicate and difficult to ever get away from the job. BlackBerrys, PDAs and laptops keep many workers tethered to their work, including on the well-deserved family vacation to Hawaii. If you find yourself sneaking out of the hotel room late at night, or slipping off the beach to compulsively check just “a few e-mails,” you might just have a problem. (If in doubt, ask your family.)

Many of my clients are at a critical juncture: continue down the same burnout path and suffer the inevitable consequences, or change.

If everyone in your company is stressed looking for efficiency or looking for cover, there may be a need to address the issue systemically. One thing experts and surveys agree on: Happy workers equate to productivity.

What companies can do:

  • Don’t expect your people to do it all. Unreasonable goals are counterproductive. They demotivate your work force and cause unnecessary frustration.
  • Watch for signs of depletion in your workers. Monitor workload and schedules to make sure they are in line with resources. Find ways to decrease the burdens by decreasing daily or excessive paperwork and approval processes. Consider outsourcing.
  • While many jobs have normal cycles of “crunch time” or heavier workloads, don’t allow this to become a yearlong constant. Appropriately acknowledge and compensate people for extra work (additional time off, bonuses, etc). Work exceptionally hard during these times to let your employees know they are valued and appreciated.
  • Survey employees and their perceptions of job conditions, stress and workplace satisfaction. Supervisors should consult with employees around decisions that affect their day-to-day work lives and responsibilities; giving them more control and flexibility over their work can yield great returns (like keeping talent!).
  • Provide opportunities for workers to socialize, have fun and blow off steam.

What workers can do:

  • If you are the poster child for workplace exhaustion and stress, stand up for your rights! Be professionally assertive and express your feelings to supervisors who make unreasonable demands. Communicate when you don’t have the time or resources necessary to accomplish the request. Ask for prioritization. If the boss demands it “has to be done,” counter with, “What piece of my other workload can I give up to get this done?”
  • Don’t inundate co-workers with e-mail overload. Clarify critical e-mails from noncritical ones. Note when it’s an FYI only or action required.
  • Avoid being your own worst “stress enemy” by setting unrealistic expectations on yourself. No, you really can’t do it all, and trying to do so more often than not means you (and your loved ones) pay a very high price. Consider establishing a great job or good enough bar vs. a standard of perfection.
  • Make yourself a priority. You are the foundation on which all else hinges. Humans need to unplug to recharge. Plan unplugged time and activities to refuel — a walk, meditation, massage or yoga class and real vacations.

I am not suggesting it isn’t important to work hard. What I am suggesting is that it’s important to have balance and to work smarter vs. solely working harder.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you find ways to reduce your job stress and find more life balance.  I coach people all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com